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The other day one of our great Quebec doc makers, Serge Giguère, received one of the Governor General’s awards for creative achievement in media arts. And he deserves it ! Last year Serge and his producers at Les Films du rapide blanc released A Force de Rêve, a fantastic film about elderly people who remain passionately active, for which he received a Jutra award.
Serge has his finger on the pulse of the Quebec population, not the elites but the ‘ordinary people.’ His films look at lives lived and popular culture, but always with a strong creative twist. He is extremely close to the people he films, but at the same time he uses his imagination. In fact, his imagination seems to be triggered by incidents in the lives of his characters, or the locations, and he just takes off from there. Since he does his own camera work, his images express exactly what he saw and imagined, in a very organic whole.
Some time ago my close friend and colleague Simon Bujold and I filmed a presentation by Serge organized by the Quebec chapter of DOC. Here are a couple of excerpts, with a little english summary translation. I’m puttint the translations first for those of you who have some highschool French.
Characters is everything says, Serge in this first clip. You may have a good subject, but without the characters that doesn’t take you very far. He learnt that from the pioneers of cinema direct in Quebec, Pierre Perrault in particular.
In this second clip, Serge talks aboutwhat we often call a ‘mise en situation’ though he doesn’t use the term. Again referring to Perrault, he says brining people together and encouraging thm to interact can be tremendously fruitful. You don’t script what they are going to say, just make some suggestions, perhaps even pushing them a little to engage in an exchange.
In the third and last clip, Serge talks about the imagination, and where he gets his ideas. And it’s always from the characters themselves, although he then takes liberties with them and finds ways to amplify them. For example, in his film on country singer Oscar Thiffault, he made use of a huge mock airplane. But the idea came from Oscar, who already had a smaller one around his place.
You can find more info about Serge’s films on the web site of Rapide Blanc films which he co-founded with Sylvie van Brabant in 1984. And here’s a little background from the Governor General’s announcement.